they admire most, and nelson mandela will likely as not be the answer. other world figures are usually famous within their own professional disciplines, sections of society, interest groups or age groups. many attract cynicism or play at indifference. nelson mandela's achievement was to combine fame, affection and admiration from virtually anyone anywhere in the world. so if, i believe, he is more iconic than anybody else, then why? his life story of sacrifice, courage, endowns and suffering in the great and noble cause of democracy, liberty and justice, places him alongside a very select few; suffragists, gandhi himself, anti-colonial african leader, che get around rah, often sang suu kyi to name just some. but mandela towers above all of them in popular imagination.